“Britain and the Armenian Question”
“Britain and the Armenian Question, 1915-1923”
Preface: This book also examines, through documents hitherto unused, the activities of pro-Armenian groups, all following a strong British humanitarian tradition…
- The British interest, before the First World War, was to prevent Russian influence in the Armenian territories.
P. 3 : According to the official Turkish statistics there were only 1.300.000 Armenians in the whole Empire of whom 628.000 lived in the ‘six vilayets’ or provinces. On the other hand, in 1912 the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople gave the number of 2.100.000. There were 1.018.000 Armenians in the six vilayets forming 38.9% of the population.
P.10: Eventually both the Cyprus Convention and the Treaty of Berlin failed Armenia.
P.11: The action of the British Government led inevitably to the terrible massacres of 1895-7, 1909 and worst of all to the holocausts of 1915.
P.14: In the pre-war years, Britain was concerned with the fate of the Armenian people, but she was more concerned in their land – en route to India – which she believed should on no account fall into the hands of a major rival power.
P.15: The founders of the two main revolutionary parties were not Turkish Armenians. The Hunchakian Revolutionary Party was formed in Geneva in 1887 by seven Russian Armenian students, all in their twenties, who had left Russia to continue higher education in Western Europe. None of them ever lived under the Turkish flag. The Armenian Revolutionary Federation or Dashnaksutiun, a merger of various Armenian groups, primarily in Russia, was founded in Tiflis in 1890.
P.16: The European discovery of new lands and new routes had turned the Eastern Mediterannean into a backwater and had resulted in the loss of Ottoman trade; the flow of cheap American silver and rise in price of gold, brought about the ruin of some sections of population; the changed conditions of warfare necessitated the maintenance of ever larger paid professional armies, caused a shrinking economy and costly superstructure resulting in the harsher taxation of the rural population The decline of Ottoman power, fostering intolerance and reaction, coincided with the awakening of Armenian national consciousness, which made conditions worse than before.The activities , first of the Roman Catholic, and later Protestant missionaries, the foundation of Mekhitarist Order in the island of St. Lazarus in Venice in the eighteenth century, the impact of the French Revolution, especially on Armenians studying in European Universities, Works of Abovian, Raffi, Nalbadian, Hayrik called ‘father’ awakened Armenians to as new nationalism. Armenians also wanted to be treated with justice and humanity. In March 1872 a group of Armenians in Van met and decided to act together for self-protection…Self-administration within the framework of the Ottoman Empire would be the most desirable improvement.
P.18: The demonstration of Kumkapi in Constantinople in 1890, the ‘rebellion’ of Sasun in 1894, when the peasants of Sasun simply refused to pay the additional tribute –hafir- to the Kurds and resisted the Turkish forces who supported the Kurds, the demonstration of Bab Ali in Constantinople in 1895, the rebellion at Zeytun in 1895-6 and the seizure in 1896 of the Ottoman Bank in Constantinople, were mainly aimed at arousing European interest for the implementation of Article 61 of the Treaty of Berlin.
Holdwater: Article 61 of the treaty regarded reforms to be enacted for the Armenian minorities living in the six Eastern provinces.
|Of more than 1000 merchants registered in Constantinople in 1911, not more than seventy were Turks. The peasantry fared no better.|
P.19: The only result of these demonstrations and terrorist acts was widespread massacre…. They did not join the revolutionary parties. Nor did well-to-do wish to be committed to illegal methods. The clergy were, on the whole, apathetic towards political developments, So too were the majority of the peasantry in the eastern provinces.
The Hunchaks were strong in Cilicia, yet they represented but a ‘fraction of the people.’
P.21: It seems that the ‘seditious’ acts of the Armenian revolutionaries were the pretext for, rather than the cause of 1894-6 massacres. It was the decline and weakness of the Ottoman Empire… Mateos Izmirlian, the Patriarch of the Armenians in Constantinople, told Fitzmaurice, now First Dragoman at the British Embassy, of his firm conviction that the only safe course for making good their terrible losses during the old Palace regime, lay in working in loyal union with the Turks on the lines of prudence and moderation. Furthermore the Armenian Revolutionary Federation of Dashnaksutiun entered into an ‘understanding’ for co-operation with the Young Turks Committee. The Turkish side of the question was that the Armenians had armed themselves, that certain members of the Hunchakian Revolutionary Party and the Armenian Bishop had openly urged the people to fight the Turks and set up a Principality.. … the vice-consul who had rushed to Adana, admitted that among the Armenians there was ‘much vain boasting and wordy provocation’.
P.26: Until April 1907 the Turkish customs duties had been 8%. The powers had assented to an increase of 3%, namely to 11%, but not a further increase of 4%, as asked by the Turkish government… In 1879 the Ottoman government was forced, through bankruptcy and financial chaos, to assign six sources of revenue to the service of national debt; and hand over their collection to the Public Dept Administration, managed by foreign, European representatives. Sir Ernest Cassel founded and controlled the National Bank of Turkey. 75% of the shares in the Turkish Petroleum Company, which had exclusive rights over the oil deposits in the vilayets of Baghdad and Mousul, were held by British interests.
P.27: French capital investments in Turkey surpassed those of any other country, including British and German. Within the territorial limits of present-day Turkey, they amounted in 1914 to about 900 million gold francs or approximately 4.5 million paper francs. Of the Ottoman Public Dept 62.9 % was due to France and 22.3% to Britain..
The imperial Ottoman Bank, was Franco-British owned… French capital included Bank of Salonika, the Wharves, Docks and Warehouses , Waterworks, Electricity and Tramways at Constantinople…The economic, financial and military domination of the Great Powers was reflected in Turkey’s government services. The Inspector-General of Finance and the Directors of the Police and of the Tobacco Monopoly were Frenchmen. A British Naval Mission tried to help in reorganizing the Navy. The Director General of the Ottoman Bank and the Inspector General of Justice were British. All the above posts and the arrival of General von Sanders’s Military Mission in 1913 and his command of the Sultan’s army went far to show that the sprawling Turkish Empire had by 1914, became a semi-colony of the exploiting Great Powers.
The Council of the Public Debt Administration, managed by Europeans controlled approximately ‘a quarter’ of the Turkish revenue and more significantly the liquid resources of the country. External trade was monopolized by foreigners or by Greek, Armenian and Jewish agents. Of more than 1000 merchants registered in Constantinople in 1911, not more than seventy were Turks. The peasantry fared no better.
P. 31: If German assistance to Austria in the Serbian crisis led to war with Russia, Turkey would enter the conflict. In return Germany pledged to protect any Ottoman territories threatened by Russia. She would, moreover, assist in the abolition of capitulations.
P.35: The Turk with his sharp cunning must have concluded that while Britain was clearly excited in her opposition to Russia, she was comparatively careless about any changes in the Turkish system of government, and practically the Christian population of Armenia were left entirely at his mercy. The Duke of Argyll, a stern Protestant, had concluded that the massacres of the 1890s were the terrible consequences of all this selfish folly.
P.37: Bryce was aware of many biblical connections and religious legends and traditions. Erevan, built of clay and plastered brick, claimed to have been founded by Noah, as its name in Armenian was said to mean ‘the Apparent’, as evidence that it was the first dry land the patriarch had seen…. ‘Everyone seems greatly struck with your great exploit on Mount Ararat…
P.38: Bryce stressed that many Armenians had entered the civil or military service in Russia and some had risen to posts of dignity. He quoted the example of Loris Melikov, the commander of the invading Russian arm in Asia in 1877. Bryce believed that the Turkish government ‘deserves to die’.
P.42: (Armenian) a desperate man when his honor or that of his nation was at stake, he was made of ‘metal’ which had produced warriors and fighters like the heroes of Zeitun in Cilicia, who had ‘never’ surrendered to the Turkish yoke!
P.43: they had recorded their confirmed opinion that a Russian occupation of Armenia would unquestionable be to the good. Any evil would be preferable to the state of Turkish Armenia…
P.45 : In 1896 (in England) there had been organized the International Association of the Friends of Armenia, with which was incorporated the Information (Armenia) Bureau. Its object were (i) to furnish information upon the subject of Armenia by means of a Central Depot for the publication and diffusion of literature, (ii) to supply the means of inter-communication between the various societies engaged in Armenian relief.
P.46: In May 1918, the formation of an Armenian Bureau of Information was reported and pro-Armenian Britons welcomed its ‘importance and value’…
P.47: The British Armenia Committee was what its name expressed: a select Committee of Britons rather Englishmen interested in and devoted to the cause of Armenia.
P.48: G.P. Gooch, the historian, was a member of the British Armenia Committee, and the Contemporary Review which he edited apparently welcomed articles referring to Armenia. Thus in 1921-2 alone this journal published articles by Bryce, Arnold Toynbee, Aneurin Williams and Harold Buxton.
P.49: Between 1 June 1920 and 23 Nov. 1920 the British Armenia Committee also had an active ‘Propaganda Sub Committee’. It met once a week. According to its minutes, Noel Buxton, who was in the Chair, C. Leonard Leese, Arnold Toynbee, the reverend J.H. Harris and other members of the committee. The Sub-Committee drafted a National Memorial which was prepared by Toynbee and finally approved by Dr. J.H. Rose, the Cambridge historian. Toynbee had earlier urged that steps should be taken to ‘pin down’ the government to the statement made by Lord Curzon as a minimum demand for Armenia.
P.50: Lord Bryce appropriately described by Boghos Nubar as the ‘prominent doyen’ of the ‘Friends of Armenia’…
P.51: But if reform was to be made ‘real in Turkey’, it could only be by European Control. …’paper reforms’ could be guaranteed only by the employment of Europeans with ample executive authority.
P.52: The British Armenia Committee sent letter received from one of the Principals of Robert College … Talaat Bey, a man ‘deficient in self-control’ had become Minister of Interior; … was the hour of peril for the Armenians.
P.53: The Turkish Empire had committed suicide, and dug with its own hand its grave. Lloyd George went further: he did not know what the Turks contributed either to culture, to art, or any aspect of human progress. They were ‘a human cancer, creeping agony to flesh of the lands which they misgoverned, and rotting every fiber of life’. The hour had struck on the great clock of destiny for settling accounts with the Turk. Lloyd George was glad that the Turk was to be called to a final account for his long record of infamy against humanity in this gigantic battle.
|Bryce’s Blue Book, had been one of the ‘moving factors’ in President Wilson’s ‘decision to enter war’.|
P.54-55: lt will be seen that co-operation between administration and the Armenophiles culminated in the publication by the Foreign Office in 1916 of a Blue Book; it was edited by Bryce and Arnold Toynbee. Arnold Toynbee published in addition, Armenian Atrocities; The Murder of a Nation and The Murderous Tyranny of the Turks. …
By the end of 1916, the broad lines of the secret Sykes-Picot Agreement, by which Britain, France and Russia had agreed on their territorial rewards for their war effort in the east, had leaked out. The dream of autonomy for a united
Armenia under Russian and Allied Protection, (mainly conceived after Turkey’s abrogation of the Reform Scheme) was fast evaporating… The Sykes-Picot Agreement had made clear that northern Armenia would be Russian and southern Armenia and Cilicia , French. Still no part of it would remain under Turkish rule.
P.56: The Committee, however, was soon disappointed. In Russia, under the influence of revolutionary ideas, the Russian armies were fast being dissolved. Turkey, making use of this golden opportunity, began concentrating its armies on the Caucasian front. The condition of the Eastern Armenians now looked absolutely critical. The secret Sykes-Picot Agreement made between Britain, France and Russia had covered Greater and Lesser Armenia. But the new Bolshevik government denounced the agreements and disclaimed annexations. In the Caucasus issues gradually became confused and prospects bleak with the advance of Turkish troops. Early in 1918 there was great uncertainty about conditions in Armenia. … However, in the south-east of the Ottoman Empire, in Mesopotamia, Syria and Palestine, the Turkish armies were being heavily defeated. Learning that the Turkish government had applied to president Wilson to obtain an armistice, British Armenia Committee asked him by cable that no conditions should be be agreed to which did not entail the complete and final ending of the Turkish rule and suzerainty over Armenia. As early as April 1880, when after the Russo-Turkish war the eastern provinces of Turkey had experienced famine…
P.59: Helping downtrodden and afflicted communities was a tradition among Quakers. The Church of England and the other religious denominations were equally concerned for the same philanthropic reasons and also probably because Armenia was the first state in the world to have adopted Christianity as its national religion.
P.60: For 1920-1 Miss Burgess had written from Constantinople what an American Missionary from Marsovan had told her: that the Turks had forbidden them to teach, on the grounds that their instruction was ‘poisonous’.
A few of the deported Armenians were returning in a ‘most deplorable state.’ Some little orphans, the pretty ones, had been saved from death, and ‘gathered as Turks put into Moslem homes’ but children with plain faces suffered cruel deaths of a ‘most painful nature’.
P.61: From 1 October to 31 December 1899, it had been able to collect, through the sales of work, over 172 pounds
from Manchester, 60 from Paisley and 217 from Liverpool. By the summer of 1908, the friends of Armenia had forwarded over 60.000 pounds to the distressed districts of Armenia, since they had begun work in 1897. By March 1915, the Friends of Armenia had forwarded 98.000 pounds to the distressed districts.
P.62: Early in 1918, in response to an urgent appeal for clothing from the Armenian General Benevolent Union in Cairo, the Guild dispatched to that city seven bales of garments, kindly shipped by M. Bakirgian of Manchester.
P.63: The aim of the fund was to attempt to stem in some degree the torrent misery caused by the war among the Armenian population of Turkey and Persia and to provide medical supplies for the Armenian volunteers fighting on behalf of Russia.
P.64: The Churches in Britain closely co-operated with the Fund and the many clergymen took a very active part in organizing collections.
P.65: Early in 1916, the American Committee for relief reported that the Russians were harboring, no fewer than 310.000 refugees, and that destitution and disease were widespread. .. Those who had missed slaughter in 1915 had fled. When in 1916 the Russian armies had advanced deep into eastern Turkey, capturing Erzurum in February and Mush in August, the refugees had started to return to their homelands…. But the defection of Russia from war and the subsequent reconquest of Turkish Armenia and even parts of Russian Armenia by Turkey in 1918, resulted afresh in the flight of thousands. The armistice naturally brought high expectations. Many of the refugees returned to the Kars district in the north-east, and to Cilicia in the south. However, the violent attacks of the resurgent Kemalists in 1920 and 1921 and the abandonment of Armenians by the Allied powers cruelly dashed the hopes of resettlement, resulting, yet once again, the panicky exodus of numberless people.
P.71: It was only when the Russian ambassador in London represented to him that for military reasons it was ‘very important’ for his government ‘to make a public declaration‘ in order to satisfy Armenian opinion in Russia’, that Grey concurred and expressed his willingness to publish such a statement in London as soon as the French government agreed to do likewise. Over 150.000 Russian-Armenians were fighting in the Russian armies, and thousands more from the Armenian diaspora had joined the Allied forces. Apparently both Russian government and presently Grey agreed to condemn the Turkish authorities solely from military considerations, in order not to lose Armenian support in the war.
P.72: The reference, in the original draft, to these crimes being committed ‘against Christendom’ was omitted on the suggestion of Sir Bertie, the British ambassador in Paris. About 5.000 refugees, mostly women and children, picked up by the French, had arrived in Egypt and were under the care of the British.
P.73: It also seems that by September 1915 it had become part of the policy of the British government to use the Armenian massacres as one of the means available to influence public opinion in the United States of America. They used any available means in their desperate military need. Perhaps they also felt, rightly, that Americans might be more sensitive to Armenian suffering and more sentimentally involved than any other people in the neutral countries, as over the years US missionaries had done more for the education and the relief of that people than any other humanitarian or educational organization in the world.
P.74: According to these reports Turkish regulars had completely ravaged Sasun. Great masses of refugees had arrived from Melazgert and Archesh districts from Van. Most of them had found shelter in the villages situated in the province of Erivan, while 35.000 had remained at Etchmiadzin.
P.76: The German ambassador had once stated that they ‘appear to be pure invention.’ He was also said, however, to have defended the Turks, action as a necessary wartime measure… However, it was generally believed in Washington that no official action would be taken unless American missionaries or American property suffered wrong.
P.77: Arnold Toynbee’s book Armenian Atrocities: The Murder of a Nation published in 1915, was, as its title implies, a lashing indictment of the attempt on the part of Turkish rulers ‘to exterminate’ the Armenian race ‘once and for all’.
P.78: Throughout 1915-16, Bryce had been receiving ‘first hand’ reports from the American missionaries in Turkey about the deportations and massacres of the Ottoman Armenians… The fundamental fact is that these documents were issued as a Blue Book by the Foreign Office and the editor — Bryce — was probably the most trusted Briton in the United States.
P.79: The formal protest to Turkey had been made ‘on official authority, and published in the same week: one’ that there were no atrocities; two, that the Armenians by their rebellious behaviour had merited and received the severest punishment. Laurence Collier of the War Department of the Foreign office minuted: I suppose we are already making use of the Armenian question for propaganda in the U.S Also in Feb. 1916 the Russian ambassador in London communicated a memorandum enquiring on behalf of Sazonov if the British government would be disposed to contribute a half share in joint subsidy of one million francs for the relief of Turkish Armenians evacuated by the Turkish government in the region of Aleppo-Mosul railway and farther towards Baghdad. The sum might be put at the disposal of the Armenian Patriarch and the Armenian Catholicos through the United States or it might be distributed among Armenians by American agents..
P.80: A more senior official added: I should be disinclined to make any donation for the benefit of Armenians in Turkey without publicly stating that we were doing it… Statements and reports passed on to American journalists and its Blue Book describing the Turkish cruelties were certainly more useful to the Foreign Office vis-à-vis the view of British national interests than a secret contribution to Armenian relief. The Treasury had, once before, in August-September 1915, refused to contribute towards Armenian relief. Asquith and Grey had not insisted. …. Even 20.000 or 30.000 pounds would do much… but no payments came from the Treasury… But, that these events were used by the British Foreign Office to arouse antipathy against the Central Powers, there is no doubt.
P.81: Half a century after these events, Toynbee claimed that the British government had issued the Blue Book for a special purpose, of which he was unaware at the time, and, he believed, Bryce was also unaware. According to Toynbee, the Russian armies, when retreating across the Polish-Lithuanian frontier in the spring of 1915, had committed barbarities against the Jewish diaspora there, and the advancing German armies had tried to exploit them. Jewish-American journalists, invited to the German occupied Russian territories, had sent ‘lurid’ dispatches to American papers, and the British government in London had been seriously perturbed. Thus in February 1916, the New York American had advised the whole American people to demand that Christian England and Christian France’ restrain the ‘savagery’ of the barbarous allies. Toynbee believed the government was worried least American Jewry might retaliate against the Allies by throwing it weight into anti-British scales in the debate in the United States. The ‘considerably worse’ barbarities committed against the Armenians had provided the British government, according to Toynbee, with ‘counter-propaganda’ material against Central Powers . Noel Buxton, as well as Asquith and Stanley Baldwin, asserted that the British government did make use of the Armenian tragedy to win over American support during the war. Noel Buxton, who had ‘a close and lasting’ relationship with Colonel E. M. House, President Wilson’s confidential adviser on foreign affairs’ ‘believed’ that the account of the sufferings of the Armenians had a ‘great influence’ upon American opinion. The description of their expulsions and massacres, as documented in Bryce’s Blue Book, had been one of the ‘moving factors’ in President Wilson’s ‘decision to enter war’. Asquith who was Prime Minister when the Blue Book was issued in 1916, and Stanley Baldwin, Prime Minister in the 1920s, also had similar views. … they stated that Bryce’s Blue Book was ‘widely used for allied propaganda in 1916-17 and had an important influence upon American opinion and upon the ultimate decision of President Wilson to enter war’.
P.82: Lord Crewe, for the government, was happy to give all the information about the Armenian atrocities which the British Council in Batum had been transmitting. These were ‘terrible facts’ and of course in no way authorized the percepts of Islam.
P.83: British government also made use of the Armenian massacres at home to stimulate the war effort against the enemy… Telegrams from Etchmiadzin reported from 350 to 400 deaths were daily taking place owing to destitution, starvation and epidemics. The Russian government had contributed important sums and latterly funds had been flawing in from the United Kingdom and the United States… Orders for the deportations of the Armenians to the interior had come from Constantinople, but I ‘knew that deportations meant massacres’. The Armenian Bishops of both Trebizond and Erzerum were murdered at Gumush-Khana. All able bodied men were taken out of town in batches of 15 or 20, lined
up on the ditches prepared beforehand, shot and thrown into the ditches. The women and children on their way to Mosul were attacked by ‘Shotas’. The military escorts had strict orders not to interfere with the’shotas’.
P.84: It might be noted that Toynbee was at this time working in the Intelligence Bureau of the Department of Information on Turkish affairs.
P.87: But Britain ‘intended to stick’ to both Mesopotamia and Palestine, as a member of the War Cabinet indicated ‘British statesmen’ therefore, had to devise war aims which would show that British policy was not completely based on imperialist greed… British leaders forcefully stressed Turkish misrule and Armenian suffering. … the duty of taking away from under Turkish rule people who were not Turks. Lloyd George, the Prime Minister, could be more emotive and rhetorical: an ‘idealist wind’ was blowing from Russia. He had to compete in idealism both with Russians and with President Wilson.
P.88: Lloyd George then went on to dismiss that the view that all territory occupied by military power, to whichever side it belonged, should be restored to its original owner. Britain should say, ‘in the interest of international morality’…
Thus bringing in the liberation of Armenia, a desolated country where Britain had no territorial interests whatsoever, and tying it in with the liberation of strategically important, oil-rich and fertile Mesopotamia, where Britain did have distinct ambitions of her own, the British leaders could confuse the issues, silence those critics who were accusing them of waging an imperialistic war, and could even give notions of idealism and humanity to their war aims.
P.89: The Sun gave the statement by the Turkish government which laid the blame on revolutionary uprisings among the Armenians and asserted that the disturbances were incited by the British, French and Russian governments.
P.89: According to the statement, the removal of Armenians from certain region to others was a measure ‘dictated by imperative military necessity’; no coercive measures were taken by the Imperial government against the Armenians ‘until June 1915’, by which time they had risen in arms at Van and other military zones. This was ‘after’ they had joined hands with the enemy. On 10 September 1915 the Pope himself had addressed an autograph letter to the Sultan, but no answer had been received. Bryce and Toynbee refuted the Turkish charges point by point in their ‘summary’ of Armenian history in the Blue Book. They indicated that the Armenian volunteers organized in the Caucasus were, generally, not citizens of Turkey, but rather Russian Armenians – citizens of the Russian Empire. In addition they stressed that there was no organized revolt in Van; Armenians had defended their quarter only after it had been beleaguered and attacked by the Turkish troops.
P.90: Djemal Pasha, as commander of the Fourth Army, was himself ‘furious’ that the deportees were sent to far-away Mesopotamia, thus hindering the movement of the Ottoman troops, instead of being resettled in central Anatolia.
P.91: In fact the military authorities in Britain consistently and persistently refused in 1915 to provide arms and training to the Armenian volunteers in the diaspora, and especially in the United States.
Volunteers in Egypt would be joined by volunteers from the Armenian communities in America, Bulgaria, Romania and Greece. A landing in Cilicia, they stressed, could also help the Allied war effort. It could completely isolate Syria, Mesopotamia and Arabia and could deprive the Turkish government of its important reservoirs of military forces….
They could not be ‘indifferent and inactive’ They would have no difficulty in holding the Taurus, Anti-Taurus and Amanus mountains especially now that the Turks were fully occupied with the Russians on the Caucasus and the Anglo-French in Gallipoli. But they needed the authorization of the British government, arms that could be spared, permission to congregate in Cyprus, assistance in transport and a small Allied contingent. In Buenos Aires, 300 Armenian volunteers asked the British Consul for acceptance as fighting units...
P.92: Whenever proposals by Armenian volunteers in the diaspora to help their compatriots in Turkey were referred to the War office, the reply of the Army Council was invariably a short refusal… Thus the zeal and enthusiasm of the Armenian communities in the diaspora, to take part in the great war effort and rescue their compatriots in Turkey, were wasted. A landing Cilicia, were it successful, might have also provided the Allies, bogged down in Gallipoli, with some relief from the Turkish pressure. On 7 Sept. 1915, the French Admiral of the Syrian coast cabled the High Commissioner in Cyprus that 6.000 Armenians were ‘bravely’ fighting against the Turks at Jebel Musa near the bay of Antioch. On request the Admiral had supplied them with munitions and provisions, but they had asked for the removal of their 5.000 old men, women and children to Cyprus.
P.93: If either Cyprus or Rhodes took their women and children, the Armenians could make ‘an important diversion from the Dardanelles’. Grey however did not favor the acceptance of these refugees either in Egypt or Cyprus which had Moslem communities. … It was for the French Government to arrange for their temporary accommodation at Rhodes or their transport to Algeria. Thus in 1915 all proposals to form Armenian volunteer groups under British direction were rejected. In 1917, however, it was the British authorities who tried hard to recruit Armenian manpower in Caucasus..
P.95: General Maude’s staff officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Maitland Edwards had just returned from the Caucasus, where after having made exhaustive enquiries had come to the conclusion that the only really loyal troops in the Caucasus were the Armenians. It was unfortunate that the Russians themselves had not grasped the importance of having all their available Armenian soldiers on the Caucasus front. Of about 150.000 Armenians in the Russian Army, less then 35.000 were there. Elated with prospect of having discovered a valuable source of manpower for north Persia and Mesopotamia, General Barter concluded: ...It is obvious that 150.000 Armenian infantry anxious to fight, and moreover having fullest confidence in us would prove an invaluable asset on the general strategical situation in Caucasus. I propose to suggest to Russians, that as many reinforcements as possible for Caucasus Army should in future consist of Armenians. It would perhaps be good to offer to take Armenian infantry into our Mesopotamian Forces? Might it not also be possible to obtain the consent of the Americans to allow Armenians in America to be enrolled for service in Mesopotamia with Maude ?
P.96: ...War cabinet suggesting that ‘all in our power’ should be done to secure the early inclusion of the as a great an Armenian element as possible in the Russian forces in the Caucasus and North Persia. The secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to concert with the United States Government in bringing diplomatic pressure to bear on the Russians to:
(a) To get Armenian troops now serving on the Eastern Front sent to the Caucasus
(b) To allow on the recruitment and formation of Armenian units for service on the Caucasus Front...
However, six Armenian battalions, just formed in the Caucasus, refused for ‘political reasons’ to be sent to the Persian front in October. The Armenian Committee in Petrograd also decided ‘not to press’ for the formation of Armenian military units until the future political status of Armenia was decided upon.
P.97: During the war, the Caucasian armies, including Armenian volunteers, had crossed the Turkish frontier and had occupied three of the six Armenian vilayets. Now with the disintegration of the Caucasian front, not only these provinces but also that of Erevan in the Russian Caucasus were in danger. Who would defend them against the Turks? Moreover, Armenians did not know what objectives they were being asked to fight for. They were uncertain and worried about their future. About 150.000 Caucassian Armenians had loyally fought in the Tsarist armies.... But in the reconquered portions of Armenia, Armenian landowners had been evicted and Tatar and Cossack settlers put in their place... Thus, it was mainly in order to stimulate further the war efforts of the Armenians on the fast-disintegrating Caucassian front that the British leaders found themselves necessarily having to make generously sympathetic statements about the liberation of Armenia. ...settlement of the future of Armenia before organizing the recruitment of new volunteers. Loird Bertie pointed out to Boghos Nubar that Persian, Mesopotamian and Caucasian fronts were all parts of one campaign on which the future of Armenia depended. He asked him to intervene with the Catholicos at Etchmiadzin and the Petrograd Committee.
P.98: Boghos Nubar, however strongly insisted on the feeling among Armenians that they should only fight on the Armenian front. There was fear that the Russian troops might abandon the three conquered vilayets to feared that the advancing Turks and Kurds would join hands with the Moslems in the Caucasus in the extermination of the Armenian population, both native and refugee....But Boghos Nubar believed, army units composed of Armenian soldiers, having the native land to defend, would hinder the Turkish army from reconquering the provinces and would succeed in preventing massacres. There were 35.000 on this front and it was desired that this total should be increased to 150.000 by reuniting all the Armenian soldiers from other fronts.... The War cabinet decided that the policy of the British government was to support any reasonable body in Russia that would ‘actively oppose the Maximalist (Bolshevism) movement’ and at the same time to give money freely, within reason, to such bodies as were prepared to help the Allied cause.
P.99: Boghos Nubar drafted a telegram to the Armenian leaders in the Caucasus, to be transmitted by the British authorities through the Catholicos at Etchmiadzin. It was indispensable, he stated, to increase the number of Armenian soldiers in the Caucasus and raise volunteers in order to resist Turkish offensive on the liberated Armenian provinces and eventually join hands with the British Army in Mesopotamia.... ‘British officers will be sent’ to help organize the Armenian and Georgian forces, he added. ... Robert Cecil, specified that the Allies were bound to protect if possible the remnant of the Armenians, not only to safeguard the flank of the British-Mesopotamian forces in Persia and the Caucasus, but also because an Armenian autonomous or independent state, ‘united if possible’ with a Georgian state, was the only barrier against the development of a Turanian movement that would extend from Constantinople to China.
P.100: When the French government expressed its willingness to undertake the responsibility for financing and organizing the Ukraine and Bessarabia, General Macdonogh suggested that in that case the organization and financing of the Cossacks, Armenians and Georgians should be left to the British Government. The agreement was finalized on
23 December 1917.Help to Armenians’ therefore, would be a British duty. ... Boghos Nubar hoped, with the assistance of Allied officers it might be possible to hold Armenia, against the ‘reduced Turkish troops on the front’.
P.101: Despite the lull on the Russian front in 1917 and the urgent need for reinforcement on their southern fronts, the Turks had kept their Third Army under Vehib Pasha earmarked for the Caucasus. In the early summer of 1918 they had
‘something between 55.000 and 60,000 seasoned infantry divisions’ with the addition of several thousand irregulars.
According to Allen and Muratoff, the military historians, such a force would be more than sufficient to overcome any resistance by Georgians and Armenians. Through the ‘bottomless advance into Trans Caussia’ the Turks are going to ‘lose all of Arabia’ Palestine and Syria,’ Liman von Sanders wrote in June 1918... Britain proved unable either to organize Armenian and Georgian forces or to finance them. ... Yet he only reached Baku, with ‘less than 1000 rifles’ on August 17, 1918. By then all the Caucasus was under Turko-German domination. Baku fell to the Turks on 16 September. ‘Dunsterforce’ had come ‘too late and proved too small’.
|Tsarist Russia’s desire to have ‘as few Armenians as possible’ in the Russian territory and to be relieved of Armenian ‘nationalist responsibilities’.|
P.102: Thus General Dunsterville arrived at Baghdad from India on 18 January 1918. He was stranded in north-west Persia and his mission ‘entirely failed’ to reach Tiflis, its original object. Winter storms, road difficulties, the problem of the supply of food and petrol, the hostility of the Kurds and the Jangalis, Persian neutrality ... Apparently for three months the military authorities could not decide whether there should be effective help for Armenia or not.
P.103: Thus Britain could neither organize the Caucasian — including the Armenian — forces, nor give them effective help.
P.104: By early 1918 the Armenian Corps consisted of two divisions of Armenian rifles, three brigades of Armenian volunteers, a cavalry brigade and some battalions of militia... Yet all this time the Armenians were ‘shedding blood’ for their existence around Erevan. ‘How can you abandon us?’ Alexander Khatisian (the Head of the Armenian Delegation in Batum, and later a Prime Minister) asked Noi Zhordania, the Georgian Menshevik leader.
P.105: The Treaty of Batum, by which the fighting stopped, was signed between the ‘Republic of Armenia’ and Turkey on 4 June 1918. It stipulated that Armenia would have an area of 10.000 square kilometers; Ottoman troops and material would be transported unhindered over Armenian territory; and the Ottoman army would reserve the right to use its own forces if the Armenians proved incapable of maintaining order and facilitating transportation. Turkish cannons were installed four miles from Etchmiadzin and four miles from Erevan. During the desperate days in May 1918, when Erevan and Etchmiadzin — the very heartland of Russian Armenia — were threatened, the Armenians were able not only to stop the advance of the Turks at the battles of Sardarabad, Bash-Abaran and Karakilisa, but even to repulse them.
P.106: Furthermore, various Armenian groups outside the republic’s frontiers, went on fighting the Turks even after the Treaty of Batum. Thus General Andranik (Ozanian) the ‘quiet, dignified and soldierly’ hero of the Turkish-Armenians, the officer for whom the British War Office had ‘a good deal’ of respect, had been fighting of the Foreign Office Staff.
the Turks the whole way back to Erzerum to Karabagh. He ‘absolutely refused’ to make peace with the Turks, minuted a member of the Foreign Office staff. Denouncing both signatories and the Treaty of Batum for handing over the Armenian Plateau to Turkey, Andranik continued his fight in Zangezur.. Likewise, in Baku, it was the nationalist Armenians, in an unholy alliance with the local Soviet, which to a large extent kept the Turks out of the oil center until 16 Sept.1918, that is only about a month before the Armistice of Mudros was signed. For Caucasian Armenia, there was first of all immense human burden of the thousands of refugees, the remnant of the decimated population of Turkish Armenia. There was also, initially, the necessity to defend the long Erzinjan-Van front, a distance of nearly 250 miles. Other difficulties in poor communication, lack of experience as a regular army, suspicion between Russian Armenians and Turkish Armenians and especially inability to maintain lasting discipline, dissipated their strength. But despite these inauspicious conditions and mistakes, the Armenian forces took over the Caucasian front after the breakdown of the Russian army, and as Lord Cecil acknowledged, ‘for five months’, from February to June 1918, ‘delayed the advance of the Turks’, thus rendering an important service to the British army in Mesopotamia The British authorities were aware that their promises to organize and finance the Caucasian and Armenian forces were not realized. Boghos Nubar’s and General Shore’s special requests for strong military missions were particularly unfulfilled.
P.107: Thus idealistic statements concerning British war aims, including the liberation of Armenia, became a substitute for effective help. In their turn, the Armenians themselves were anxious for some clear assurances about their future. The Bolsheviks had publicized the Allied agreements to the portioning of historic Armenia, between Tsarist Russia and France. Disappointed, the Armenians asked for assurances. These the British leaders readily gave under war conditions. For over a century, the conflicting policies of Britain and Russia in the Middle East were considered the main cause of the misfortunes of the Armenians in Turkey. When, however, Britain and Russia entered the war on the same side, it had seemed that a new era would down for the Armenian people. Not only had Russian Armenians, as citizens of the Russian Empire, enlisted in the Russian army, but they had also formed volunteer forces mainly composed of Armenians from diaspora (the Balkans, France and United States) and had borne the brunt of some of the heaviest fighting in the Caucasus. M. Philips Price, the special correspondent of the Manchester Guardian, had captured in his diary the mood of these volunteers in the basin of Van at the beginning of the war. Every one felt the presence of the spirit of Armenia, for which they were fighting. Across the border, in Turkey, the general Congress of Dashnakstsutiun, sitting in Erzerum in the autumn of 1914, had been offered autonomy [Emphasis Holdwater's] by Turkish emissaries, if it would actually assist Turkey in the war. The Congress had replied that the Armenians, as Ottoman subjects, would faithfully do their duty individually, but as a nation they could not provoke revolts in the Russian Empire. It was following this refusal, described as ‘courageous’ by Robert Cecil, that the Ottoman Armenians had been systematically murdered by the Turkish Government in 1915.
P.108:At the beginning of the war, about 150,000 Russian-Armenians were enlisted in the Russian armies. In addition, seven groups of volunteers operated on the Caucassian front. Besides these, Boghos Nubar had been instrumental in the formation of the Legion d’Orient, at the ‘request’ of the French government and with the agreement of the British government in late 1916. It was composed mainly of his own compatriots from the Armenian diaspora. Throughout the war, the Armenians were sustained in their war effort by the statement of sympathy of the Allied statesmen.. … Tsar Nicholas II had told Catholicos Gevorg V, ‘tell your flock, Holy Father, that a most brilliant future awaits Armenians’,, in response to the Catholicos’ appeal to liberate the Turkish Armenians and take them under Russian protection. By the Russo-Turkish Reform Scheme of 26 January 1914, Turkey had recognized the privileged position of Russia in the Armenian question.
Of course, Armenians did not know then that the Tsar was ‘not all keen to incorporate’ the Armenian vilayets and did not wish to have much to do with Armenians, as the Russian ambassador had told Sir Arthur Nicholson, the Under-Secretary of foreign Affairs, during a conversation in 1915. Nor did they know that during the Sykes-Picot negotiations, Russia had insisted that Sivas and Lesser Armenia should go to France and in return she should get the Kurdish populated Hakkiari-Mush in the east. The reason had been Tsarist Russia’s desire to have ‘as few Armenians as possible’ in the Russian territory and to be relieved of Armenian ‘nationalist responsibilities’. .
P.109: But the idea that Turkey would have to pay the penalty for her unprovoked entry into war was accepted by the Cabinet even before the actual declaration. As already mentioned, Asquith had referred to the ‘blight’ of Turkish rule and Lloyd George predicted that the day had come when the Turk would be called to account for his long record of infamy against humanity. Such statements from great leaders — all vague and made in general terms — apparently elated the Armenians, a people hitherto without a state and therefore without the experience of statecraft. To serve Armenia is to serve civilization (said Gladstone). Boghos Nubar expressed his conviction that the British government which was then fighting for ‘civilization, for fundamental rights as well as for the principle of nationality’, would support the reconstitution of national unity of the Armenian people. They had placed ‘all our hopes on the Allied Powers’ he wrote to Bryce.
P.110: In it Boghos Nubar repeated that he had received a ‘formal assurance’ that after the victory of the Allies the Armenian ‘national aspirations would be satisfied’. He was worried about deportees, still exposed to the vengeance of Turks, in the deserts of Mesopotamia. Boghos Nubar knew that the three Armenian vilayets of Erzerum, Van and Bitlis would be probably annexed to Russia, but the other vilayets reunited with Cilicia, would devolve to France. It was for this, Armenia having an access to the Mediterranean, that he asked for an autonomy of the largest kind, and for which he had obtained ‘a formal promise’.
P.111: The Allied leaders had simply to make use of any possible source of manpower … the withdrawal of Russian forces from occupied Turkish territory, a separate peace, and the creation of an enormous vacuum in the balance of power in Eastern Turkey and the Caucasus. Harold Nicolson minuted: ‘The Russian Revolution has changed the whole aspect of the Armenian question’.
P.112: Allies too were contemplating peace with Turkey. The Armenian Military Defence Committee in the Caucasus, evidently in a panic, told the British Consulate at Tiflis that were armistice with the Turks to be concluded’ Armenia would be in danger of ‘returning under the Turkish rule’. It was against this background and mainly to stimulate the Armenian war effort that the British leaders made their ‘pledges’ to the Armenians from December 1917 onwards. They were designed on the one hand to induce the Armenians to go on fighting with tottering Caucasian front and’ on the other hand to avoid too much commitment. ‘Liberation from the Turkish yoke’ implies either annexation by another Power or some form of self-government.
P.113: Arabia, Armenia, Mesopotamia, Syria and Palestine are in our judgment entitled to a recognition of their national conditions, and ‘it would be impossible to restore’ these territories to their former sovereign – Turkey. The statements made were meant to maintain the morale of the Armenians combating the Turks. After all, by the beginning of 1918, British arms had successfully conquered those territories in the Ottoman Empire where she had distinct ambitions.
P.115: … the gallant resistance of the Armenians in defence of their liberties and honour… He also referred to the Armenian soldiers ‘still fighting’ in the ranks of the British, French and American armies, and to the part they had borne in General Allenby’s great victory in Palestine.
P.116: Thus when Aubrey Herbert, a Turkophile Member of the Parliament asked permission to send a letter to Talaat appealing for better treatment of British prisoners, the Foreign Office refused. According to Lloyd George, declarations about liberating nationalities inside the enemy Empires were ‘intended to a propagandist effect’. They would help to break up the solidarity of the enemy countries. Britain had felt ‘compelled’ to endorse the claims to independence of the various nationalities. Further, Lloyd George had maintained during a Supreme War Council Meeting that ‘Nobody was bound by a speech’.
P.117: … the nation which the Allied (sic) (caused) to fight for them and have now deserted…In the nineteenth century Britain had strongly resented Russian presence in Armenia as a threat to her position in the Persian Gulf.
P.119: During 1914-18 Britain was likewise guided by considerations of national interest, In the greatest war of her history she sought to use all her resources, both material and moral, to defeat her enemies. So, she extensively made use of the Armenian holocausts of 1915 to discredit her enemies, Turkey directly and Germany indirectly. She publicized the massacres as part of her policy of winning the sympathy of the United States of America and of the other neutral countries away from Central Powers and of keeping the loyalty of her Moslem subjects. Thus Britain was guided by her considerations of national interest. However, the war radically changed the focus of her interests in Armenia. She lost her interest in Armenian territory. In order to satisfy her allies, she even agreed to, and approved of, the partition of historic Armenia. On the other hand, the war brought a dramatic growth of sympathy with the Armenian people. After the war, however, national interests would no longer warrant concern for Armenia.
P.120: In 1917, Revolutionary Russia had disclaimed annexations in the Armenian provinces. … According to Lord Bryce, that France had also dropped her idea of obtaining Cilicia. So, when the United States entered the war, the Armenian organizations in France had hoped that she might be induced, by philanthropic motives and interest of her missionaries, to take in hand for a time. Bryce thought that this was very unlikely, but his old friends of the influential
American Mission Board in Boston believed the scheme not impossible. Communicating this information to the Foreign Office Bryce added that the problem had always been difficult, and was even more so now because of depopulation caused by the massacres.
P.121: During the war the British government had sympathized, mainly in its own interests, with the suffering of the Armenian people and with their future. … how to reconcile public statements with its reluctance to assume responsibility for Armenia. It resorted to various expedients: efforts to throw responsibility of aid on to other countries; awkward arguments to justify the reluctance to help; half-hearted measures instead of effective action. Britain was not willing to spend money or men in a far-away and inaccessible country which was of no interest to her either strategic or on economic grounds; a desolate country which was only rich in misery. Thus at the end of the war, the Armenian question looked like an additional liability for British statesmen.
Even before the war many Turkish troops had been in the most wretched condition. In 1916 some were fighting with ‘no overcoats and no boots’, and thousands were deserting. By 1918 Turkey was in the grip of war-weariness and bankruptcy. Prices had risen by nearly 2.000 per cent.
P.124: Exhausted and defeated on other fronts, Turkey was victorious in the Caucasus and master in the ‘six Armenian vilayets’ .and Cilicia. Who would undertake the protection of the Armenians were provision made for the detachment of these regions ? The problem was further complicated by the fact that the native Armenian population had either been massacred or become refugees in the Caucasus.
P.126: The Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916 had allocated large areas in the Ottoman Empire to France. Bur during 1917 and 1918, almost all the fighting in these areas had been done by the British. It seemed vital to Lloyd George, therefore, that the British themselves should hold the reins of the armistice negotiations and exploit to the full their military success by acting as swiftly as possible. When the collapse of Turkey was imminent, the French reminded Balfour that General Allenby’s armies had entered the French sphere of influence as defined in the Sykes-Picot Agreement…
P.127: The British territories were thus set. There was no mention of Armenia at all. British had taken by far the larger part of the burden of the war against Turkey. Clemenceau had retorted by pointing to France’s contribution on the Western front as a reason for the negligible amount of French troops in the Near East and had declared that as France was Turkey’s principal creditor, the French had the greatest interest there. Accordingly, the French Admiral Gauchet had been authorized to proceed to Mudros if he considered it expedient, possibly with a view to proceeding up the Straits in command of the Allied Squadron.
P.128: Of the 24 terms arranged ‘in order of importance’ the first three were about the opening of the Dardanelles and secure access to the Black Sea. The fourth concerned the handing over of Allied prisoners and Armenian interned persons. Only the twenty-fourth term referred to Armenia.
P.130: Curzon, who usually gave the impression that his views are ‘rigid and inflexible’, but who, according to Lord Beaverbrook had a talent for being on ‘both sides of every controversy’ now joined the Cabinet in its expression of satisfaction. Only in the case of disorder could the Allies have the right to occupy the six vilayets.
P.133: Even before the armistice, Armenians had been alarmed at the rumors of abandonment.
P.134: Rauf Bey during the actual negotiations with Calthrope at Mudros told that the Turkish opinion was ‘looking for a square deal’ from the British: that ‘frankly’ speaking the British could come up and secure the guns in the Dardanelles forts, but if Greeks also came to occupy the forts, it would mean ‘a revolution’ in Turkey. Surrender of garrisons in the Arab provinces should only be to a British Commander, because if the Turks surrendered to Arabs, ‘they would be badly treated’. He had a ‘special’ request that the clause about the Allied occupation of the towns of Sis, Hajin, Zeitun and Aintab in Cilicia should be cancelled, otherwise ‘on this’ the ‘Government may fall.’
P.135: Moreover, the armistice established Britain as the dominant power in the Near East. It seems that during October 1918, Lloyd George was obsessed by the prospect that other nations, such as the Italians and especially French, might gain advantages in the Near East, basing their claims on previous agreements. .. But there had been another ‘fearful row’ in Paris when Calthrope had excluded the French from the armistice negotiations at Mudros…. In the end, the French smarted, sulked and almost sabotaged the peace with Turkey.
P.136: The armistice temporarily brought power and prestige to the British. But it was an ominous event for the Armenians because it failed to provide for the liberation of the Armenian homelands on the other hand, and for the proper disarmament of the troops on the other. The Armenian refugees and deportees could not return to their homes, and remained as a crushing burden on the tiny Republic of Erevan. Recommendations of Foreign Office staff, Robert Cecil, Eyre Crowe, Headlam Morley, Orsmby-Gore, Mark Sykes to Toynbee, to provide protection over the Armenian provinces, were disregarded. The improvisation by Lloyd George that once the Allies were in Constantinople they could do what they liked as regards Armenia, remained merely a statement… In February 1920, even before the peace, the Kemalists massacred thousands of Armenians in Cilicia and in October 1920 they tramped on the Treaty of Sèvres by invading the Republic of Erevan… Lord Bryce, likewise expressed concerned about lack of security in these provinces. The Turkish troops, just demobilized, would rob and murder, especially during the prevailing very great scarcity of food.
P.137: Lastly, the American Relief Committee, who was preparing to send out ample funds for the refugees, would not traverse the country unless they could have protection. The surrender of Alexandretta on the Mediterranean and of Mosul in Mespotamia even after the armistice of Mudros was signed. Balfour in no uncertain terms warned Calthrope that “…public opinion in this country and the United States of America, would not for one moment forgive any out break in Armenia which might lead to further massacres and to belated intervention on our part. … ‘strategic points in Armenia should be occupied without delay’ as a precautionary measure. This was not done.
P.138: Lieutanant-Colonel A. Rawlinson specially sent to Anatolia to supervise the demobilization, was defiantly informed by Kiazim Pasha in Erzerum that the munitions in Turkish possession could not be permitted’ to cross the frontier’. Later, in March 1920, Rawlinson and his men were detained and imprisoned by the Kemalists in Erzerum as a retaliation for the occupation by the Allies of Constantinople. They were all but starved to death and were ‘hardly able to crawl’. Rawlinsons’s book reads: ‘The Turkish Armistice a Fiasco – Foundation of the Nationalist Party.
P.139: Oliver Baldwin, the Prime Minister’s son, who served in the Armenian army at Erevan in late 1920 and early 921, maintained that the 1920 Turkish Armenian war was the continuation of the 1914 war, broken out afresh as a result of Britain’s weakness in her dealings with Turkey.
P.141: Boghos Nubar, the President of the Armenian National Delegation in Paris, who had ‘assiduously’ worked in the cause of Armenia, warmly congratulated Great Britain – Champion of ‘justice’: the day was 11 November 1918. The mightiest country in the world and the other victorious powers were sympathetic towards Armenia; and the Turkish government ‘if not cowed, was subservient’.
P.142: Colonel F.R. Maunsell of the War Office recommended the creation of both a separate state of Armenia and separate state of Kurdistan, Armenia occupying the country round Mount Ararat and Lake Van and including Erzerum and Black Sea Ports of Trebizond and Kerasund. The belt of country to the south should form Kurdistan. Edwin Montagu, the secretary of state for India, suggested a ‘large Armenia’. Avetis Aharonian, the president of the Republic of Armenia’s delegation in Paris, likewise implored for a mandatory and offered to put the Armenian army under Allied supervision.
P.142: The British had no tangible interests of their own in the Armenian territories. Even staunch Armenophiles did not think of the possibility of such an arrangement. Long before the armistice with Turkey, Toynbee had strongly argued for the sake of future relations with Russia, it was ‘most undesirable’ for Britain to assume such a responsibility She should avoid it. Sir Eyre Crowe also believed that it would be dangerous from the point of view of future relations with Russia, if Britain accepted the mandate. Curzon, in his turn, emphatically opposed such an obligation for financial reasons.
P.144: Since the population was mixed, the principle of equal rights for all nationalities should be applied. On the other hand in settling proportional claims of these various elements in Armenia that ‘the dead and the exiles should be taken into account’ and Armenian immigrants from other parts of the world should be given facilities for settling down in their ‘ancestral homes’. If France were chosen as the mandatory, this should make her more ready to forego her claims in Syria, in case these claims were not confirmed by the Syrian themselves. Britain was already committed to France’s establishment of a direct or indirect district of administration in the south-western half of Armenia, the memorandum maintained. It was urged that a US mandate would suit Britain better, Sir Eyre Crowe pointed out that there was, unfortunately little hope that the Americans would accept it.
P.145: But Curzon opposed the Foreign Office view of a large Armenia where Armenians would be in a decided minority.
If there were not a large Armenian state, the Turks would have a direct connection between Anatolia and the Turkish population in the Caucasus, which was exactly what the British wished to avoid, so far as Pan-Turanism was concerned. Robert Cecil agreed with Curzon that it would be very difficult to have one mandatory for Armenia and another for Caucasus Republics. He admitted that the Americans did have a sentimental interest in Armenia, but he was convinced that they would never go to the Caucasus. They would ‘never be there permanently’ they cannot’. So, it was proposed to recommend the creation of Armenia, ‘under the aegis of the French’. Montagu, the Secretary of State for India, agreed. It was ‘difficult’ to get the Americans to undertake the Armenian mandate. The Foreign Office was of the view, therefore, that a French mandate over Armenia and Caucasus would provide the best practical solution.
P.146: From the military point of view, therefore, the first essential in Trans-Caucasia was that the British position in Georgia and in Russian Armenia should be firmly established. This made it necessary, the General Staff went on, that Russian Armenia should be kept separate from Turkish Armenia. In other words, the Fench influence should cease on the pre-war Russo-Turkish frontier. Thwaites, the DMI also indicated that Britain ‘ought’ to be on the important line of communication in the Caucasus: ‘we ought to be sitting there ourselves, and nobody else’.
P.147: They had argued that a French mandate over Armenia and the Cucasus would be the best practical solution, since it was virtually certain that Britain would not accept a mandate over Armenia. Yet there was little hope for United States accepting it either. So, according to the military view, France should have neither the Caucasus, nor Mesopotamia, Palestine, nor even Syria.
P.149: Whether or not Trans-Caucasian Armenia opts for inclusion, the new State formed out of the north-eastern territories of the former Ottoman Empire should be called Armenia. That has been a historical name in the past; the Armenians are at present the most progressive and prolific element in the population; there will be an immigration of Armenians from abroad and they are likely to play the leading part in the future. On the other hand, the statement went on, the country could not be handed over to the Armenian element and organized as an Armenian national state, as the Armenians would be found to form a ‘a considerably smaller fraction’ of the total population.
P.150: So, it was official British ‘policy’ to see Cilicia and the ‘six vilayets’ entirely detached from Turkey and formed into an ‘independent’ republic. Had this ‘statement of British policy’ been realized, Armenians might have thought that justice at last come their way. This ‘policy’ however, was actually a statement of sympathy only, perhaps designed to satisfy pro-Armenian public opinion and did not envisage any responsibility. British interest in Armenia were merely sentimental and humanitarian. Thus Britain had no positive policy at all as regards Armenia. She would refrain from assuming responsibility. She would like to see a large Armenia under the protection of the United States –for which there was little hope- or under the protection of France. If the latter, however, she should not be permitted to go to the Caucasus, and should also be cleared out of the rich Ottoman lands in the south, if possible. In the end, British government neither provided protection for Armenia nor could it induce the United States or France to assume a mandate. On 17 November 1918, a British force from north Persia accompanied by a pro-Entente force of Russian troops, occupied Baku, acting on behalf of the Allies.
P.151: Other reasons stressed the commercial and material importance of the region. Batum would become the emporium for the central part of Asia; it was impossible to allow the ‘great oil resources’ of Baku to fall in the hands of a tiny mountain republic like Daghestan, or into the hands of a ‘very doubtful’ element like the Turkish Azerbaijan. In 1918 the four Republics of Georgia , Azerbaijan, Armenia and Daghestan had come into existence when the Russian power had collapsed in the Caucasus. They were now claiming the right of self-determination and clamouring for recognition as independent states. Should Britain recognize them?
P.153: Are we preserving order in the Caucasus in the ultimate interest of a united, undivided Russia, or of these new, self-created States? This was a dilemma which the British government could not solve. Both the Caucasian peoples and the Russians alike were ‘frankly puzzled’ by the attitudes of the British and regarded them with complete mistrust.
P.154: But the newly-born republics, infected by morbid nationalism, had jumped at each other’s throats over territorial disputes, immediately after the withdrawal of the Turkish and German troops. It seems that British mediation in the Caucasus often disregarded Armenian aspirations. The insufficiency of troops may have been one consideration for the British authorities favoring the stronger states contesting disputed territories. Another consideration may have been the well-publicized view that Armenia would expand in the direction of Turkey-in-Asia..
P.155: Armenia was the least important state in the Caucasus in terms of strategic position and natural resources and therefore could not be of much use to British imperial interests. Of all the territorial disputes in the Caucasus the most serious was the Armeno-Azerbaijani conflict over Mountainous Karabagh in the province of Eisavetpol. The Moslem Azerbaijani outnumbered two to one in the province, but the Armenians constituted the absolute majority of the population of Mountainous Karabagh. In the first half of 1918 Mountainous Karabagh was virtually autonomous. Following the declaration of Azerebaijani independence in May 1918 the Azerbaijani government tried to bring the disputed territories of Mountainous Karabagh and Zanzegur county under its jurisdiction with the help of Ottoman armies.
P.156: The Turkish Armenian leader General Andranik and his partisans entered Zangezur in July, destroyed a number of Moslem settlements, and brought the central region of the country under Armenian control. On 2 December 1918 Andranik and his volunteers crossed the Karabagh border. Within a few days the Karabagh Armenians might have come under the jurisdiction of the Republic of Armenia. General Thomson, however, commanding at Baku, sent instructions to Andranik to stop all military operations and return to Zangezur. Thomson approved Azerbaijani government's choice of Dr. Khosrov Bek Sultanov, a notorious Armenophobe, as the Governor General of the two regions. At the end of 1918 the Armenian government had expelled a number of Moslems from Daralagiaz and repopulated the villages with Armenian refugees. But the Tatars of Sharur and Nakhichevan would not allow the resettlement of Armenians in their countries and were prepared to fight. The British authorities again intervened. Finally, General Forestier-Walker turned both Sharur and Nakchievan into a British military governorship in late January 1919.
P.157: It seems that at first the British Command sanctioned the activities of the republic’s Moslem National Council at Kars; they mustered some 8.000 men, armed from the abandoned Russian dumps, claimed authority from Batum to Nakchievan and actively supported the local Turco-Tatar bands fighting the troops of Armenia along the border. Thw National Council was apparently determined to keep the province under Turkish influence and to block the repatriation of over 100,000 Armenian refugees who had escaped the Tiflis and Erevan provinces during the Ottoman offensive of early 1918. When Captain Clive Temperley attempted to enter Kars with a company of British infantry and a number of Armenian officials to assume his duties as military Governor General of the province, armed Moslems warned him that his party would be fired upon unless the Armenian officials returned. Alexander Khatisian would later tell a British Armenia Committee meeting in London that from the United States of America they had received much assistance of a material kind, but political help only from Gt. Britain.
P.159: Less than three months after the dispatch of British troops to the Caucasus, Lloyd George’s Cabinet decided on their withdrawal. The British Command in the Caucasus, caught up in the local territorial disputes, had made demands for more and more troops… Involvement had grown. Yet, the Cabinet was not prepared to incur these additional responsibilities. On 30 January 1919, Lloyd George formally asked the Supreme Council in Paris that the military representatives of the Allied powers should meet ‘at once’ and present a report as to the most equitable and economical distribution among the powers of the ‘burden’ of supplying military forces for maintaining order in the Turkish Empire and Transcaucasia pending decisions of the Peace Conference. On 5 February, the military representatives agreed that Italian troops should replace the British in Transcaucasia and Konia. It was in order to catch the war-weary public mood that Lloyd George had apparently promised, during 1918 elections’ an immediate demobilization and return to a peace footing, and Sir Henry Wilson accused him of conducting a ‘cursed campaign’ for ‘vote-catching’. A quick demobilization would satisfy an electorate which was fatigued and pacific and a Treasury urging the necessity for retrenchment. Even from the earliest stage, Balfour had opposed the policy of assuming responsibilities in the Caucasus. He was really frightened at the responsibilities which the British were taking upon themselves: <‘Who has to bear those responsibilities? The War Office and the Treasury are mainly concerned. Where are they going to find the men or the money for these things? I do not know. Those matters are never considered.
P.160: Great reductions could ‘only be obtained by reductions in men’. So, the British armies melted fast. On the day of the general Armistice the total strength of the army was 3.615.000; on 16 September 1919 it had dropped to 904.164. Yet another reason for the withdrawal was Lloyd George’s wish, as recorded by Sir Henry Wilson in his diary, to force the pace in the settlement of Asia Minor; to force President Wilson to take his share in garrisoning or in naming the mandatory. There was also his view that the British troops in the Caucasus should reinforce those in Constantinople and Asia Minor, ready to counter any possible move by the Italians (who were basing their territorial claims on the wartime Treaty of London of April 1915).
P.161: It seems, however, that for British politicians withdrawal was not a cut and dried formula: in fact a British detachment remained in Batum untilll June 1920. The military authorities, however, having made up their mind that the British line of defence in South Asia should be neither the line Constantinople-Batum-Baku-Krasnovodsk-Merv, nor the line Constntinople-Batum-Enzeli-Tehran-Meshed, but should be the railheads of the systems of Palestine, Mesopotamia and India, that is Palestine-Mosul-Khanikin-Burujird. (Sir Henry Wilson) considered the Foreign Office to be badly organized and incompetent and those ‘academic fools’, who wanted to back the Greek against the Turk, ‘dangerous’. In the past, Imperial Russia and Imperial Turkey had provided stable governments, and Denikin’s Russia would have now been the best security for India and Central Asia against Bolshevism.
P.162: When however, Denikin’s armies collapsed, it seems that the traditionally pro-Turkish sympathies were completely transferred to the support of Turkey. The Turkish National defence movement which was growing in Turkish Armenia and the hostility of the Tatars towards the Armenian provided the material for a serious configuration. On the southern frontier of the Armenian republic the situation was very disturbed, Milne reported. In the districts of Shardissi and Nakchievan the Tatars were being guided by Turkish officers – a breach in the terms of the armistice. The Armenians considered their chance of retaking these districts as nil, owing to ‘scarcity of ammunition’. The general opinion was that massacres would ensue in these two districts, General Milne warned.
P.163: The British withdrawal presented, therefore, an opportunity for the Kurds, Tatars and Turks of these disputed territories, to try to sabotage and invalidate, with active help of Turkish officers and arms, any territorial arrangement which might favor Armenia. In their turn Armenian bands in Kars, ‘without discipline and not under effective control’ apparently pillaged insurgent Moslem villages and committed atrocities. They argued to Lieutanant-Colonel Rawlinson that in order to take control of the region it was necessary that they should disarm. the population. But the authorities in Erevan had not yet had the time or the money to organize a properly disciplined army. Armenians felt themselves separated from the Turkic peoples by the blood of hundreds of thousands of their kinsmen systematically murdered during the war. These mutual relations were apparently discussed in Paris. On 4 March 1919, Stephen Bonsal, the distinguished American journalist serving as secretary to president Wilson, referred in his diary to the ‘blood-curdling’ atrocities committed against Armenians by the Turks which he had seen with his ‘own eyes’ in Turkey. "No, I do not close my eyes to the crimes which the Armenians have committed…from time to time when the rare occasion presented against the diabolical Kurds and the Turkish irregulars… Indeed I approve of them."
P.164: Peterson commented on the ‘absurdity’ of the War Office plea that to give arms to the Armenians would be to encourage disturbances. In Paris, the Armenian representatives desperately requested that the British, before withdrawal, would arm their republic against the imminent danger from Turkish and Tatar armies. The arms in possession of the Armenian army – 14.380 rifles, 158 machine guns, 43 field and mountain guns- were all in bad condition and spare parts were lacking.
Holdwater: According to the testimony of Armenia's prime minister: "Our army was well fed and well armed and dressed but it did not fight."
P.165: In addition, the Army Council persistently rejected requests for assisting the Armenians with arms and equipment even after the bulk of the British troops were withdrawn. The provision of arms would lead to ‘provocative action’ on the part of Armenians and would further complicate the situation. In the neighboring states, jealousy would be created and the hostility of Mohammedans in Turkey both to the Armenians and towards the Entente powers might be increased. It would be ‘well to abandon the idea of Greater Armenia’ for the present. The Armenians should be induced to believe that the best prospects for their future lay in the creation of ‘two small states’, one in the Caucasus and one in Cilicia.
P.166: It was the ‘inaction’ of the powers which emboldened the Turks to disregard completely the terms of the armistice in eastern Anatolia and they did so with impunity. The power and prestige of the Turkish Nationalists rest only upon the ‘abstention of the Allies to intervene’, L.P. Chambers wrote from Constantinople. In his turn, referring to the Turks, Bryce concluded: " … the maddening part of the whole Near East business is that it could have been settled with little trouble had it been taken up immediately after the war. There would have been no Angora rebellion, no pernicious Khalifate agitation in India."
P.168: Having made up his mind that Turkey should become the major power in the Near East, once the Denikin had collapsed, Sir Henry Wilson continued to press his views resolutely. When President Wilson asked him how many troops he required for the Armenian mandate, Sir Henry replied ‘up to five’ divisions and this ‘terrified’ the President.. Pressing the government to make concessions to Turkey, the General Staff saw in the Turkish Nationalist movement a patriotic organization, the main object of which was to oppose the dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire. Antagonising the ‘patriotic elements’ in Turkey would preclude the possibility of reducing British garrisons in Egypt, Palestine and Mesopotamia, and would cost the British taxpayer unnecessary millions.
P.169: The War Office and the Indias Office successfully used the double levers of strategic requirements and opinion in India to press their pro-Turkish views on the government. Montagu viewed the proposed peace with Turkey as disastrous and incredible. The Allies did not have the military strength to enforce it, he argued. Moreover, it was wholly opposed to the interests of the British Empire. The British should try to get the Turks to help them against the Bolsheviks. A ‘friendly’ Turkey would profit Britain; and ‘incensed’ Turkey would never cease to foment trouble in India.
P.170: The Prime Minister himself was specific about a country which did not impinge on the vital British interests: ‘with every desire to assist, we really cannot police the whole world’, he told the House of Commons. Only a few seconds later, however, he pressed that Britain should not abandon Mosul which was a province with great possibilities: it had ‘rich oil deposits’. The British government would only be too pleased were responsibility for Armenia assumed by other Allied powers. In February 1919 Italy had agreed to send two divisions of troops to the Caucasus and one battalion to Konia in Anatolia for the supervision of law and order pending peace settlement. Tommaso Tittoni, the Foreign Minister, told Balfour that holding the Caucasus would need about 40.000 men and this was more than Italy could afford.
P.171: At one time the prospect had been good. Colonel E. House, President Wilson’s influencial adviser, had privately told Hankey that he thought the United States would accept a mandate, although he could not come out in the open and say so. However, hopes faded. According to Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, the Republican Leader in the Senate, under no circumstances would the United States accept any mandate in Turkey or, its late territories.
P.172: Lord Robert Cecil, no longer a member of the government, also joined his voice arguing that the case for assisting Armenia was ‘really overwhelming’. He reminded the House that the 1915 massacres had been organized from Constantinople because it was thought that Armenians were ‘friends’ of the Entente. At the time when Russia went to pieces through the Revolution, no doubt these Armenians had for some months maintained the Entente cause in that part of the world. They had fought gallantly, but by so fighting they had merely exacerbated the views which obtained in that part of the world and now they were being treated as traitors. A memorandum in the name of the British Armenia Committee appealed to the whole of the daily press to use its influence to dissuade the government from withdrawing troops. … and Clemenceau, the President of the Conference, concluded: <France could do nothing; Italy could do nothing; Great Britain could do nothing and, for the present America could do nothing. It remained to be seen whether, as the result of this, any Armenians would remain>.
P.173: James W. Gerard, formerly American ambassador to Germany, now Chairman of the American Committee for Independence of Armenia, twice cabled Balfour asking him to press at the Peace Conference for an independent Armenia with big boundaries. In March 1919, forty State Governors, 250 college and university presidents, 85 bishops and 20.000 ministers and priests had petitioned Wilson in this respect. But charity unsupported by political and military assistance was quite insufficient to deal with the unhappy consequences of Turkish cruelty. The British interests in Armenia were ‘purely sentimental’.
P.174: National economy was vital to Britain which had no practical interests of any kind in Armenia. Thus it seems that it became British policy to try and pass responsibility for Armenia on to other countries. In September 1919, the French proposed to land a 12.000-strong force at Alexandretta which would then proceed to help the Armenians in the Caucasus.
The War Office suggested that the proposal was not practicable. The War Cabinet was suspicious and they decided to invite the French Government to dispatch their force through the Black Sea ports. (Bonar Law) seizing the opportunity to strike a sound bargain for formally throwing off any British responsibility for Armenia, he wrote to Balfour in Paris: <If you could get Clemenceau to make a public declaration that he would undertake the responsibility of protecting the Armenians, then I think that would be a good thing whether or not he was able in reality to do so.
P.175: The French went back on their offer and never landed troops at Alexandretta or the Black Sea ports of Armenia. Armenia, was not, after all an exclusively British concern. Pro-Armenian humanitarian feeling was substantial in France, Italy and the United States. But Hankey himself knew that these Allies had been alienated by British manuevering in the Former Ottoman Empire. Britain had secured for herself alone the richest and strategically the most important parts of the Ottoman territories. Influenced by Admiral Slade, Hankey was convinced, even before the end of the war, that Britain ‘ought’ to make it a ‘first class war aim and peace aim’ to acquire oilfields in Persia and Mesopotamia. In Paris, taking a ‘very intransigent attitude’ Lloyd George had wanted to go back on the Sykes-Picot Agreement in order to get Palestine and Mosul for Britain. At the peace negotiations during the first of 1919, Lloyd George had succeeded in establishing an increasing ascendancy and in the end had ‘always got his way’. The French talked of ‘La Paix Anglasie – the English Peace – recorded Hankey.
P.176: (Bonsal had shown Wiseman a copy of the Prime Minister’s speech made at the Guildhall in 1916) which with ‘malicious purposes’ he had kept on his desk for some weeks. As Wiseman seemed to shy away, Bonsal had read aloud:
“Britain is resolved to liberate the Armenians from the Turkish yoke and to restore them to the religious and political freedom they deserve and of which they have been so longed deprived”. Bonsal commented in his diary that as the extreme difficulty of the task became apparent, both France and Britain earmarked the job for ‘simple Simon, that is, for Uncle Sam’.
P.177: Addressing President Wilson in late April 1920, the Supreme Council expressed their conviction that the only
Great power qualified alike by its sympathies and its material resources to undertake the mandate ‘on behalf of humanity’ was America. The prospect of creating an Armenia which should include Cilicia had for long been abandoned as impracticable. There remained the questions, what portions of the vilayets of Erzerum, Trebizond, Van and Bitlis, still in the possession of the Turkish authorities, could be safely added to the existing state of Erevan, and what means of access to the sea should be provided to the new state. Finally, the Supreme Council called the sympathetic attention of the United States government to the possibility that an American loan of a few millions sterling for both provision of the military forces and the constitution of an orderly administration, might be the means of setting at once on her feet. But the rhetoric could not transfer the responsibility onto American shoulders.
P.178: The government could not go back on the promises made by British statesmen. Nor could they completely disregard the pro-Armenian pressure of the humanitarian groups who pinned down the British political leaders to their own statements and resolutions. ‘Armenia – we are doing our best ‘ Curzon wrote to the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1919. ‘I shall never in any settlement with Turkey lose sight of Armenian interests’. In the end Llyod George’s government decided to solve the dilemma in its own way by sticking to its promises to liberate Armenia. By the Treaty of Sèvres of 10 August 1920, a very substantial part of the ancient territory of the Armenian people -to be delimited by President Wilson- was formally accorded to Armenia. The Treaty was signed by the representatives of the governments of Erevan and the European powers.
P.179: As regards Turkish Armenia, the (British) General Staff in March pointed out that the extent of the front from the Black Sea to Lake Van, close on 300 miles, was a task ‘quite beyond the capacity’ of Armenian forces. In addition, Turkey was ‘fully arned’ and Armenia ‘unarmed’. Armenian soldiers lacked ‘everything’, even uniforms. The Treaty of Sèvres was indeed the consummation of the British and Allied pledges for the liberation of Armenia and response to humanitarian public opinion – on paper.
P.180: By according territory in the vilayets of Erzerum, Trebuzond, Van and Bitlis to Armenia, the Allied powers took the decisive step of removing from Turkish rule lands which had constituted the national home of the Armenian people since the dawn of history: lnds where they lived from biblical times and for indisputably longer than the Turkish people had been in Anatolia. The Treaty was particularly significant because it acknowledged, at a time when these lands were completely and cruelly depopulated of their native inhabitants, their ownership by the Armenian people.
P.181: When giving the results of his arbitration on 22 November 1920 President Wilson, stressed that he had examined the question, as he put it, with a mind ‘to the highest interests of justice’ and in the light of the ‘most trustworthy’ information available. He decided that 42.000 square kilometers of territory should be added to the Republic of Armenia from Turkish Armenia. Armenians were vibrant with patriotism all over the world. Kajazuni, would a few years later, comment with the wisdom of experience: ‘The Treaty of Sèvres had dazzled the eyes of all of us, restricted our power to think, clouded our consciousness of reality’
P.183: But the position of these powers as regards the Armenian clauses was somewhat false. That position fatally based on an illusion of power and authority when in reality the Allies lacked effective means – the will and forces- to implement the Treaty of Sèvres. Should the Turkish government refuse to carry it out, according to their report, the Allies needed for such a task 27 infantry divisions in all, while they only had on the spot 19 divisions. In more detail they stated that the territory of the future Armenian state was occupied by ‘4 Turkish infantry divisions with large stocks of military materials’ and that these divisions could be reinforced by large numbers of irregulars. On the other hand, Armenia, in view of ‘feeble strength’ at her disposal – 15,000 men, insufficiently armed and without war material – was ‘nor in position’ to establish her sovereignty and to resist possible attacks from Turkey or Azerbaijan. The General Staff concluded that the British government could enforce the proposed peace treaty, only if it was prepared to face ‘a further call for troops’. But… even the existing armies were only too impatient to return home. In 1919 there had been open riots at some military camps to protest against slowness of demobilization. In addition, military expenditure became a major target for economies.
P.184: In consequence, in 1920, expenditure on the armed forces was reduced by more than half, from Sterling 604 million to Sterling 202 million and over the next two years it was reduced by more than half again to Sterling 111 million. The result was further demobilization and ‘a shrunken British Army to handle a shrunken British budget’. On the other hand the governments had decided that no Allied force should be sent to Armenia.
P.185: Lloyd George was against the inclusion of Erzerum in the future state of Armenia: the creation of a Larger Armenia would make for ‘bad feeling’ among the Moslems of India. After every war there always were large numbers of officers and men, who, trained in arms would be quite prepared to enlist as long as they received good regular pay.
P.186: Llyod George perceived the United States as the source of money required. He had been told that Armenia would need a loan of Sterling 10 Million. Who was prepared to advance such a sum? America should be informed that the Allied powers now had an ‘impossible burden’ on their shoulders. She should take care of that burden. If she was refused, let her refusal be ‘definitely placed on records’. Then she could not continue to complain of the inability of the Allies to protect Armenia’. Llyod George, simultaneously devised another scheme: the Allies should find equipment for the Armenians who should be armed and given a chance of fighting their own battles. If they were not in a position to defend their own frontiers, then he thought that there was ‘no use for a nation of that kind in the world’. Was then the policy of the Allied powers and especially of Britain towards Armenia cynical? Yet, the powers had drafted a treaty, for the implementation of which, as regards the Armenian clauses, they would spare neither a single battalion nor any money.
P.187: It was now 'certain that no Power will accept a mandate for Armenia’. The break-up of the German, Austro-Hungarian, Russian and Turkish Empires, the defeat of the Central powers and the withdrawal of the United States from Europe in 1919 had created for the victorious Allies and especially Britain, a vast political vacuum. The Allied and especially the British leaders suddenly found themselves with unprecedented world wider responsibilities shaping the destinies of millions of people and settling the frontiers of a host of countries. The result was an exaggerated sense and awareness of immense power and prestige. Thus during the London Conference of the Allied Representatives in February 1920, when the Kemalists attacked the French forces and massacred between 15,000 and 20,000 Armenians, Curzon was outraged. He told an Allied meeting that it was ‘impossible’ for the Allies to tolerate this ‘insulting defiance’ by the Turks, and that all three powers should join in exacting ‘the appropriate penalties’. Likewise, Lloyd George expressed his grave concern about the ‘prestige’ of the Allies throughout the Turkish Empire and the ‘dignity’ of Great Powers. But with armies melting fast, Britain’s military strength was shrinking. British authority, prestige and power, unsupported by military capability, were illusory and certainly insufficient to impose the Turkish Treaty in its entirety.
P.188: What would actually happen to Armenia were the United States to refuse responsibility? In June 1920 the American Senate decisively rejected that Armenian mandate. President Wilson, however, consented to arbitrate on the boundaries. But by the time the result of his arbitration was made known in November, the Kemalists had already reached Erevan in Russian Armenia.
P.189: Thus the Treaty of Sèvres, for which Armenians held thanksgiving services, became a document of provocation for the Nationalist Turks. They not only did not cede any territory from Turkish Armenia, but even crossing the pre-war Russian frontier occupied the greater part of Russian Armenia. The Treaty in the end became Armenia’s doom.
P.190: Armenia, with the other Caucasian republics, was simply meant to become, on the side of the Entente powers, a pawn in the struggle to contain Bolshevism.
P.191: During a secret Interview, Enver, the former Turkish War Minister, who had lately been in Russia, told Major Ivon Hedley of the British Military Mission in Berlin that the Bolsheviks ‘will not be beaten’. Enver had seen both Denikin’s and Soviet Armies, and had ‘highest praise’ for the Soviet armies.
P.193: If surplus arms were not available in abundance, neither was money. Armenia’s request for a loan of 1 million Sterling was turned down by Curzon. Neither flour nor arms could be sent to the Caucasus because the three republics had no sterling credit. Both Treasury and the War Office were insisting on previous payments with ‘interest’ …
P.194: … it is not part of the policy of HM Government to prevent by force of arms the advance of the Bolsheviks into Georgia. – among the difficulties in complying with the request was the question of payment: Parliament and public opinion would not support the gift of arms.
P.195: Both France and Italy had promised to send one battalion each to Batum. But France sent, late in the day, an Algerian, instead of promised white battalion. Italy absolutely declined to implement her promise. The presence of the Entente powers in the Caucasus, became, therefore, nominal from the end of June 1920. The sudden unannounced departure of William Haskell, the Allied High Commissioner for Relief, from the Caucasus further added to the sense of abandonment in Armenia. Haskell had been diverting ‘all’ the available flour earmarked for Armenia to the government of Azerbaijan ‘in return for cash payment’.
P.196: As seen above, in June 1920 the British authorities withdrew from Batum. Thus by the summer of 1920, Soviet Russia was clearly poised to become the potential master of the Caucasus. … referring to the 11th Bolshevik Army, that the discipline, equipment and clothing of the troops were very good. The army officers, however, were untrained. The Bolsheviks had taken over large consignments of arms recently sold by the Italians to Azerbaijan.
P.197: After the British withdrawal, therefore, Soviet Russia and reviving Turkey were the only two powers which could fill the vacuum created by the British withdrawal. But somehow, Armenia could not come to an accommodation with either of these states, which alone had a real presence around her. Between Armenia and Turkey there stood the spectre of the Treaty of Sèvres; and between Armenia and Soviet Russia there hung Armenia’s illusory hope of support from the Allies.
On their part the British authorities never stopped providing guidance and advice to Armenia, even when they completely lacked any solid basis of actual power and when they could give her no protection whatsoever.
P.198: But it also contributed to Armenia’s illusions and her actual – and fatal – isolation. Since October 1919 Mustafa Kemal had set himself, in defiance of the Ottoman government, in the district of Erzerum, to organize resistance to all forms of foreign interference, and chiefly to the formation of an independent Armenian state within ‘Turkish boundaries’.
Nationalist Turkey was determined to sabotage the Peace Treaty being imposed by the Entente. The Nationalist movement was ‘created’ by the Greek landing in Smyrna in 1919. Toynbee wrote after his eight month’ study trip to Greece and Turkey in 1921.
P.199: ‘We must let the Greeks occupy Smyrna’, Lloyd George had proposed and President Wilson and Clemenceau had agreed to use the Greek forces for frustrating Italian designs in Anatolia and also for controlling the Turks. The Greeks would substitute the forces which the Allies were neither able nor willing to send themselves. In return the Allies, and especially the British Prime Minister, wished to support the Greek territorial claims. Lloyd George firmly believed that a friendly Greece dominant in the eastern Mediterranean at the expense of Turkey and flanking the main communications through the Suez Canal with India and Far East, would be an invaluable advantage to the British Empire. Lloyd George’s dislike of the Turk was unalloyed: he argued that the Turk was a continual source of trouble in Europe and Asia. Britain and France had kept the ‘wretched’ Turkish Empire alive again and again. But as soon as the war broke out the Turks had betrayed them shamefully. On 16 March 1920 strong British forces occupied Constantinople in the hope of crushing national agitation It was at this stage that Kemal showed his astute abilities in diplomacy. He perceived and exploited in a masterly way the rivalry and the differences of policy between Britain, France and Italy over the Middle East and the greater chasm that separated the Western powers from Soviet Russia. Kemal swiftly reacted to the British occupation of Constantinople by formally disowning the authority of the Turkish government in Constantinople, and by calling for elections to a Grand National Assembly which proclaimed him head of the government. Soon after, on 26 April, it was Kemal who sent a note to the soviet government expressing…”the desire to enter into regular relations with it and to take part in the struggle against foreign imperialism which threatens both countries’.
Soviet Russia was another power equally determined to undermine the Entente which had tried to strangle her through interventions and economic blockade.
P.200: For Turkey the cooperation with Russia would be a morale-booster. She might hope for munitions from Russia in the same way Greeks were receiving them from the Allies. Moreover if the Soviets supported her, Kemalist Turkey would feel secure on her north-eastern frontier while she fought the Greeks and the Allies to her south and west. At a time when there were still French troops in Cilicia, Greek troops in south Anatolia and British Allied Forces in Consstantinople, Kemalist Turkey simply could not afford to have a hostile Russia on her north. In August 1920 a confidential British military intelligence report stated: ‘The Angora Nationalists, as a result of the Greek successes, are becoming more ready to treat with the Bolsheviks’. It was certainly Kemal’s own brilliant doing that he was not left in diplomatic isolation. Russia was also willing to back Turkey against Greece in order to deter her from purchasing the backing of the Western powers who were Russia’s enemies. Above all, by supporting Turkey, Soviet Russia tried to assume the role of champion of Islam – a role left vacant by Britain.
P.201: In 1920 both Soviet Russia and Kemalist Turkey probably considered the Caucasian republics, forming a wedge between them and enjoying the patronage of the Supreme Council, as potential centers of hostile foreign influence.
But this co-operation was not unqualified. As Arnold Toynbee maintained in 1922, Soviet Russia also ‘backed’ to a limited extent the Armenian Republic of Erevan… against both Turkey and Azerbaijan, as barrier between possible Turkish ‘pan-Turanian’ ambitions and the oil-fields of Baku.
P.203: … that Russo-Turkish co-operation was a matter of life and death for Russia. Turkey was prepared to attack the Allies but was afraid that Armenia would strike her in the rear. As to the question of the boundary with Azerbaijan: Zangezur and Nakchievan would be decided after referendum. Armenia would also receive gratis from Soviet Russia about ten locomotives as well as a sum of 2.5 million gold rubles as an aid. This oral agreement was to be put in writing. But the signing of the treaty was postponed. On 1 May , just after the sovietisation of Azerbaijan, Armenian Communists made an abortive attempt in Alexandropol to take over the country. The Armenian government ‘executed seventeen ringleaders’. Those who escaped to Baku were trying to defeat Russo-Armenian negotiations in Moscow, according to Terterian, by their reports of persecution in Armenia. This would have assured, first, the Soviet’s official recognition of the independence of Armenia, second, Nakchievan’s becoming a part of Armenia.
P.204: A Turkish delegation, headed by Bekir Sami, the Commisar for Foreign Affairs in Kemal’s Government, and representing the Turkish National Grand Assembly, was likewise in Moscow at the same time as the Armenian delegation. Zarafian and Terterian considered it desirable that their delegation should have some special interviews with the Turkish delegation with a view to settling their mutual disputes. But Levon Shant vigorously opposed the idea. Thus up to the summer of 1920 it had not been possible for Armenia to come to an understanding either with Soviet Russia or with Turkey: the very states surrounding her, with one or both of which, good relations were imperative. When the Turkish delegation left Moscow, they too had not signed a treaty: most significantly, the main obstacle had been the Soviet insistence on Turkish concessions to Armenia. Thus exaggerated Armenian hopes in far-away Allies, ill-feeling between Dashnaks and the Bolsheviks, the passionate belief of the British officers in the Caucasus that horrors and misery accompanied Bolshevism, and their exhortations to the Armenian government to resist concessions to Soviet Russia, all contributed to the failure of an early Armeno-Soviet understanding. Terterian had also pointed out that certain government and party circles in Armenia were misled by Armenia’s purchase — in July — of British arms into underrating Kemal’s military power. They believed that in a clash the Armenian divisions could easily occupy Erzerum.
P.205: When Armenia rejected as seen above, the ultimatum from Soviet Azerbaijan to withdraw her forces from both Karabagh and Zangezur, theSoviet troops marched and the Armenians suffered a series of military reverses. An agreement, signed in Tiflis on 10 August 1920 between A. Kamalian and A. Babalian on behalf of the Republic of Armenia, and B.V. Legrand, the representative of Soviet Russia, provided for ‘provisional’ occupation by the Soviet Russian troops of Karabagh, Zangezur and Nakchievan – described in the text as ‘the regions under dispute’. Ironically the Tiflis Agreement was signed on 10 August: the very day Aharonian in Paris signed the Treaty of Sèvres – the treaty which promised so much to Armenia.
P.206: Commander Luke considered the agreement as a betrayal of trust on the part of Armenia and an act of treachery against Britain. As he reported to Curzon, he had referred….” In strong terms to the painful impression which this act on the part of Armenia, amounting in effect to a betrayal of trust, was bound to make on His Majesty’s Government, who would… feel that they had been ill paid for their help to Armenia in the matter of munitions and otherwise.” Again he stressed that: “… the Armenian Government’s consent to the Bolshevik occupation of Nakchievan, which opened their road into North-West Persia and into Turkey, almost amounted to an act of treachery against Great Britain, and especially deplorable at the time when Armenia had just received a large consignment of British munitions”.
P.207: General T. Nazarbekian, the Commander-in-Chief of the Armenian armed forces, also considered the late arrival of British arms as one of the causes of Armenia’s military reverses. Armenians were being attacked on all sides, by the Azerbaijanis, the Turkish Nationalists, the Russian Bolsheviks, and, within the disputed territory, by the Molokans and the Kurds. Moreover, Armenia was hampered by lack of financial resources, of fuel, and of means of transport. But besides the misleading Treaty of Sèvres, the Allies could give neither good-will nor effective diplomatic assistance. In the summer of 1920 Armernia was fatally isolated in the Caucasus. (General Milne) even suggested a word of ‘warning’ to be given to the Armenian government as regards Colonel Katheniotes, an officer in the Greek army. According to Katheniotes’ plan, volunteers would be raised among the Greeks of the Black Sea coast to help Armenia occupy Trebizond, in return for the ultimate grant of some sort of autonomy to the Greeks in such parts of the coast which might come under Armenian sovereignty. The warning to Armenia was duly given by Commander Luke who believed that the plan merely seemed a device to resuscitate the Pontine Republic- a Hellenistic state which had existed in the Old Ages. Thus Armenia was urged not to make concessions to the Soviets. But from nowhere in the Allied camp did she receive even diplomatic help.
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